Democracy will win, Motsoeneng will lose - Solidarity

2016-07-21 10:40

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Johannesburg - The case of four of the fired SABC journalists had a strong chance of success in the Labour Court in Johannesburg and would prove that the broadcaster's COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, can't hide from the law, trade union Solidarity said on Thursday

Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann said they expected the SABC to ask for the matter to be postponed because it had not filed any court papers yet.

"This shows that there is intent to frustrate the process," he said.

He said the four journalists - Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp - were asking the court to set aside their dismissals, and that their disciplinary processes be revoked in their entirety.

Seven SABC reporters were fired this week. The eighth person was freelance journalist Vuyo Mvoko, whose contract was terminated.

It emerged on Tuesday that the broadcaster had fired Busisiwe Ntuli, a specialist producer for investigative programme Special Assignment, and Lukhanyo Calata, a SABC journalist in Cape Town. Economics editor Thandeka Gqubule confirmed later that she had also been sacked.

Hermann said the other journalists, who are not part of this case, were represented by their own trade unions and legal teams.

"A precedent for one is a precedent for all and, therefore, this case would benefit the dismissed journalists as well as those persons in their individual capacity."

Anton van der Bijl, Dirk Hermann, Suna Venter, Foeta Krige and Jacques Steenkamp (Ahmed Areff, News24)

'We salute the journalists who have been fired'

Solidarity would also ask the court that those individuals in the SABC who were responsible for the decision to dismiss the journalists pay costs.

"Motsoeneng will discover that it is not easy to hide behind cosy political ties in court. In the days and weeks to come, a battle between constitutional democracy and democracy of power will come to a head, both inside the courts and on the outside. However, this will not be the first battle, nor will it be the last one," he said.

"Constitutional democracy will win and Motsoeneng will lose. The one thing that Motsoeneng managed to achieve was to unite South Africans across many boundaries around constitutional principles. The court case is not Journalists v the SABC, but Hlaudi Motsoeneng v the democracy of South Africa.

"We salute the journalists who have been fired. They have become symbols of constitutional democracy. They deserve a constitutional pat on the back and not dismissal without a hearing and simply via an email."

The Helen Suzman Foundation and the broadcaster reached an agreement on Wednesday which saw the High Court in Pretoria interdicting the broadcaster from enacting its policy of censoring footage of violent protests.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) ruled on July 11 that the SABC had to withdraw its resolution, announced in May, to ban showing footage of violent protests.

Motsoeneng initially said after the ruling that no one could tell the SABC what to do and that they would challenge Icasa’s decision in court. However, in a surprise turn, Icasa said on Wednesday afternoon that the SABC had agreed to comply with the ruling.

Hermann said the interdict and the Icasa ruling would prove that, since the policy was unlawful, so too was the dismissal of reporters. 

Read more on:    solidarity  |  sabc  |  hlaudi motsoeneng  |  johannesburg  |  media

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